Pickled plum (umeboshi) is a kind of pickle which is made by adding salt and red shiso (akajiso – perilla, of the mint family) to plums. It is then dried in large open containers outside under the sun for about 1 week. It is good for your health because it contains a lot of protein, iron, vitamins, etc. Also, because it suppresses microbes it is often puts in box lunches and in rice balls. Because it has a lot of citric acid, it promotes the secretion of saliva, which helps one recover from fatigue. There is a box lunch called “hinomaru bento” which consists of rice with one pickled plum (umeboshi) in the center. It resembles “Hinomaru” which is the name for the Japanese flag.
Red pickled ginger (beni-shōga) are pickles which have been pickled in umezu (salted plum juice). We serve them with Japanese-style pancakes (okonomi-yaki, negi-yaki), fried noodles (yaki-soba), sushi and so on.
Takuan is made from dried radish which has been pickled with salt, rice bran, Japanese persimmon (kaki) peels and gardenia fruit, from which it gets its yellow color. Takuan was the chief priest of a Buddhist temple who lived from 1573 to 1646. It is said that because he produced this tsukemono and made it popular, it was named takuan.
Asa-zuke is a vegetable which has been pickled with salt and dried sea tangle (konbu)or has been soaked in pickle seasoning. Because pickle seasoning is sold at stores, asa-zuke can be made easily at home. Vegetables often used for asa-zuke are napa cabbage (Chinese cabbage), cucumber, cabbage, radish and eggplant.